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Is Protein Powder Safe?

What are the hidden dangers of protein powders?

While protein powders can help us meet our macronutrient goals and lose body fat, they may contain added sugar, calories, or even toxic chemicals if not chosen carefully.

Protein powders are powdered forms of protein that come from plants (soybeans, peas, rice, potatoes, or hemp), eggs, or milk (casein or whey protein). The powders may include other ingredients such as added sugars, artificial flavoring, sweeteners, thickeners, vitamins, and minerals. These additives (present in Muscle Pharm for example) can get stuck in the gut and lead to bloating over time. People with dairy allergies or trouble digesting lactose [milk sugar] can experience gastrointestinal discomfort if they use a milk-based protein powder, therefore I recommend a plant based organic protein for them. Shop my favorite plant based protein here:

What are the risks?

A protein powder is a dietary supplement. The FDA leaves it up to manufacturers to evaluate the safety and labeling of products, so there's no way to know if a protein powder contains what manufacturers claim. Unfortunately, we don't know the long-term effects. There are limited data on the possible side effects of high protein intake from supplements.

It may be high in added sugars and calories. Some protein powders have little added sugar, and others have a lot (as much as 23 grams per scoop, like Muscle Milk). Some protein powders wind up turning a glass of milk into a drink with more than 1,200 calories. The risk: weight gain and an unhealthy spike in blood sugar.

Shop my favorite whey protein here:

Earlier this year, a nonprofit group called the Clean Label Project released a report about toxins in protein powders. Researchers screened 134 products for 130 types of toxins and found that many protein powders contained heavy metals (lead, arsenic, cadmium, and mercury), bisphenol-A (BPA, which is used to make plastic), pesticides, or other contaminants with links to cancer and other health conditions. Some toxins were present in significant quantities. For example, one protein powder contained 25 times the allowed limit of BPA.

The Clean Label Project points to manufacturing processes or the existence of toxins in soil (absorbed by plants that are made into protein powders). Not all of the protein powders that were tested contained elevated levels of toxins. You can see the results at the Clean Label Project's website (

What you should know:

-Opt for chemical-free protein powders may be helpful. Choosing protein powder that is organic or natural will likely reduce negative side effects.

-Choose high quality, isolated protein is the purest type of whey protein you can take.

-Choose a protein powder with 10 or less ingredients.

-Shop at Whole foods, sprouts, or other natural grocery stores to make the selection easier.

I hope that gives you better knowledge of why choosing a high quality protein powder is important!

Here are a few more tastey, clean recommendations:

Organic Plant Protein:

Isopure Isolate Whey:

Gold standard Whey:

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Leah Peters

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